By Jan Clark

Talk about high drama!

Richmond and Winchester went toe-to-toe in girls volleyball at the Tiernan Center Wednesday with the Red Devils pulling out a four-set thriller in the home opener 26-24, 25-22, 20-25 and 25-9. The junior varsity picked up its first win in the preliminary 25-10, 25-18.

The Red Devils’ front line helped make the difference statistically with 35 total kills, 11 by Laurelai DePew, six by Molly Morken, five by JaKaia Lotz, four each by Ashley Clark and Ray Rogers, two each by Ella Wilson and Kennedy McKee and one by J’naya Thompson.

“The energy we had tonight was the difference in this volleyball game,” coach Russ Uhte said. “We got some really big hits from our front row and that really energized us. We just need more of that.”

Clark led in service aces with three, Adrian Weber and Alison Juday with 13 and 10 digs respectively, Morken and Lauren Uhte in assists with 14 and nine and Wilson in blocks with three.

“We had different rotations tonight and went back to our most comfortable positions,” DePew, a sophomore, said of the difference between Wednesday and the opener Monday at Pendleton.

“We were more mentally and physically together tonight. We seemed to be more up and excited to play. Tonight was one of the best nights for sets (to the front row).”

Richmond got off to a nice 11-4 lead in the first set but Winchester wouldn’t go away. The Falcons caught up at 12-12 and stayed even with the Devils through 23-23. Winchester had set point at 24-23 before a DePew block won it for RHS. Ironically, Richmond won the first set despite seven service errors.

A Clark kill opened the second set as the Devils mounted an early 9-2 lead. Four DePew kills in that stretch were also key blows. Another Clark kill and an outstanding dig by Kennedy McKee gave Richmond a 15-10 lead. The Devils increased their advantage to 22-15 but the Falcons scored six straight points to make it 22-21. This time Richmond was able to finish at the end.

Set three is the one Richmond coach Uhte said he would like to forget. The score was tied 13-13 when Winchester reeled off five straight points. It was back and forth to the end, the Falcons able to pull it out by a five-point margin.

Set four was all Richmond, the only lopsided set of the night. The Devils had seven kills, an ace by McKee and a block by Wilson to lead the way. Richmond led 7-1 and was never threatened.

“I had four or five different rotations I wanted to try tonight and I pretty much tried them all,” coach Uhte said. “I don’t want any credit for this win. It all goes to the girls who came out with great energy tonight. We have several leaders on this team. I couldn’t be prouder of them. I’ve got all the positive pieces. I just need to put them together.”

Clark, another sophomore and one of eight sophs on the varsity, said the Richmond team has done a lot of bonding lately.

“We’ve talked about things that really needed to be talked about and now we’re connecting together as a team on the court, Our hitters were hitting tonight and our defense played well. I’m really excited about this season because I’m back playing front row. I really like it there, it’s my home.. I played mostly back row defense last year (primarily due to an injury to her forearm).”

Richmond enters a tough stretch to its schedule Saturday at the Kokomo Invitational, followed by a home date with Delta Monday and a trip to Greenfield-Central next Wednesday.

Varsity stats — Clark 3 aces, 4 kills, 6 digs; Lotz 5 kills; Morken 2 aces, 6 kills, 4 digs, 14 assists; Rogers 4 kills,1 assist, 1 block; Juday 2 aces, 10 digs, 5 assists; Weber 1 ace, 13 digs; Wilson 2 kills, 1 dig, 3 blocks; DePew 1 ace, 11 kills, 8 digs, 1 block; McKee 1 ace, 2 kills, 3 digs; Thompson 1 kill, 5 digs; Uhte 2 aces, 6 digs, 9 assists.

JV stats — Haskett 8 aces, 4 kills, 4 digs; Wright 6 kills, 5 digs; James 2 kills, 1 assist, 1 block; Bosell 1 ace, 10 digs; Bopp 2 digs; Harrison 2 digs, 8 assists; Orr 2 aces, 2 assists; Warner 2 digs; Whichard 2 kills, 1 dig, 1 assist; Sikes 3 digs; McClain 1 dig.